State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Public Welfare chief says agency's name a "barrier"

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 24, 2014 5:42 PM
Thumbnail image for mackereth0408.jpg

Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

The head of the state agency that administers food stamps, Medicaid, and home heating assistance in Pennsylvania told state lawmakers today she'd "love" for the department to get a facelift.

A measure to begin calling the Department of Public Welfare the Department of Human Services is awaiting a vote from a Senate committee. Supporters have said for years the change would show sensitivity to benefit recipients.

DPW Secretary Bev Mackereth said Monday she's on board.

"I think that a name change - every other state did it, and now I know why," Mackereth said. "When you talk about welfare, it is such a negative for people... I didn't say this last year, but it is... it becomes a barrier.

Last year, Mackereth raised concerns about costs, but she said now she's confident the change could be phased in with minimal expenses.

A scheduled Senate committee vote on the measure was scuttled last month, ostensibly to work on proposed amendments to the plan. But the panel's chairman said Monday those amendments have been jettisoned.

The name-change plan passed the House last summer.

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